Menuderia Guanajuato has stood in the same location between auto shops for years on McDowell Road near 24th Street. It's a humble building with no fancy artwork or signage outside. In fact, the only element that causes the building to stand out is the lime green paint and the iron bars covering the entrance and the window. Other than that, it's hard to tell whether the restaurant is even in business.
No hours are posted anywhere, and the only indication of an operating restaurant are the few cars parked in front and toward the back, near the kitchen.
It's worth stepping inside.
Enter the builiding and you'll be greeted by a huge mural that reads "Bienvenidos Menuderia Guanajuato" in bright red, yellow, and blue letters. A picture of a Spanish-style home is painted underneath the writing, with a bundle of strawberries on the side.
It's a calm restaurant, with white walls and bright red trim on the molding. There's a fireplace in the main eating area, and foldout tables with chairs fill the interior.
The restaurant is seat-yourself, so you have to pick up your menus at the front counter. Of course Spanish is the main language, but the server is bilingual, so don't let the language barrier be a hindrance.
At a glance, the menu options appear standard: menudo (daily), quesadillas, gorditas, sopes, tacos, burritos, tortas, flautas, enchiladas and chilaquiles. They also serve hamburgers and fries for kids. Their aguas frescas include horchata, jamaica, and piña (pineapple juice).
We ordered an al pastor burrito, carne asada gordita, al pastor sope, and green chicken enchiladas.
The burrito, sope, and gordita came out first. The burrito comes with rice, beans, and meat inside. Homemade beans are instantly recognizable by the pure taste and creamy consistency, and Menuderia Guanajuato serves up beans that take us back to our nana's kitchen. The al pastor was tender and well seasoned.
Our gordita came standard with beans and meat inside. The sope was hot off the pan, and the beans were the highlight. Inside, the carne asada was basic, nothing special.
Much like the gordita, the sope shell was tender and fresh. The al pastor was good, and the lettuce, sour cream and cotija cheese on top added some freshness.
Let's not forget the salsas that accompany the dishes. Menuderia Guanajuato makes their salsas, and the green salsa was our favorite. There's no way to go wrong with hot and tangy salsa. Spread some over your food and your mouth is set for an adventure through flavors.
We were just about done with our first three dishes and thought our server forgot our order of enchiladas, but as we looked up she was walking toward our table with a plate of six rolled chicken enchiladas covered with green sauce, finely chopped lettuce, and a generous amount of sour cream and cotija cheese, bright orange rice and beans.
Six enchiladas for only $8? We were entranced. We're lucky to get get two for that price at some other Mexican restaurants. But the real surprise was when we took that first bite of the rolled-up goodness. The chicken was moist and carried a buttery, creamy flavor that offset the hint of spice running through the enchiladas. The tortillas were too good to be store-bought, so we checked our instincts, and our server confirmed that all the tortillas for the enchiladas, sopes, gorditas and menudo are homemade.
Homemade tortillas that are made well put Menuderia Guanajuato into a whole other bracket. Their menu comes to life with their homemade tastes. We wondered why more people don't fill the small restaurant, but then again, maybe it's a good thing for the rest of us since we know the quality of the food they put out won't be compromised.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.